Travel

Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

High Culture, Lowish Price

11/08/2011
Travel Writer

After Athens, Madrid might be the most-scrutinized world capital this month, as global leaders anxiously train their eyes on the Mediterranean financial meltdown.

But while cultural offerings are taking a hit in other cash-strapped cities, Madrid is the defiant exception. From the lavish gardens of the Royal Palace to expanded hours at the Prado, visitors to the Spanish capital will see scant evidence of crisis. 

Madrid’s inviting central alleys are packed with inexpensive lodgings. Hilary Larson

The New Culture Of Lodging

11/01/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

As I’ve been on the move lately, a kind of endless summer from March on the Pacific to October in Italy, I’ve noticed a sea of change in the world of travel lodgings.

Hilton and Marriott aren’t going anywhere. But for tens of thousands of travelers worldwide, the 10 a.m. checkout and the sterile mauve bedspread are becoming a thing of the past.

Views of the breakfast room at the Palazzo de Tomasi B&B in Gallipoli, Italy. Photo by Hilary Larson

A Different Roman Holiday

10/25/2011
Travel Writer

We were in Apulia, lounging on beaches along Italy’s coastal heel, when it occurred to my husband and me that both we and our rental car needed to be dropped off in Rome — 400 miles and two metropolitan traffic jams away.

We could have booked an airport hotel and written off the last day as a multi-hour schlep. But we wanted to extend our beach vacation to the very last possible hour — and in doing so we hit upon some inspired, even under-sung corners of Roman charm.

The beach at Anzio, located on a scenic point just south if Fiumicino. Photos by Hilary Larson

Along The Apulia Promenade

10/18/2011
Travel Writer

Lungomare is the Italian word for a seafront promenade. Every coastal town worth its dot on the Italian map has one: a stretch of travertine where lovers snuggle on benches, locals walk their dogs and everyone comes to contemplate the sea.

A piazza in Lecce Photos by Hilary Larson

The Languid Allure Of Apulia

10/04/2011
Travel Writer

Almost purely by accident, my husband and I ended up in a wild, raw landscape of olive groves, crumbling white-stone walls and vast blue sea views at every bend in the road. We were in Apulia — or Puglia, as the Southern Italian region is known locally — in search of that perfect Italian beach vacation: a little culture, a dose of history, but mostly gorgeous scenery and golden sand.

Gallipoli, on the Ionian coast, boasts a scenic beach as well as an ancient port and harbor. Hilary Larson

A Blast Of Culture

09/27/2011
Travel Writer

Few places combine the ancient and the novel with as much finesse as Israel. This fall, Israel travelers have several opportunities to experience the familiar in unexpected ways.

Blockbuster shofar exhibit at Bible Lands Museum includes a ram’s horn that belonged to a Buchenwald and Rosh HaShanah Stamps

Seaside Villages And Canada’s Ellis Island

09/20/2011
Travel Writer

If you think New Englanders are friendly, you’ll love New Scotlanders, inhabitants of the region more commonly known as Nova Scotia. The liveliest and most diverse of Canada’s three maritime provinces offers a warm welcome to travelers, a wealth of Jewish heritage and plenty of local culture — from fiddling in pubs to Titanic artifacts.

This time of year, as beaches still beckon on warm afternoons, fall foliage explodes with color to charm the most ardent leaf-peepers.

Peggy’s Cove with its historic lighthouse, is a favorite spot on the Halifax coastline.

Time To Trade Up

09/13/2011
Travel Writer

Rrrrrumble, rrrrrumble.

One hot, sticky August night on the Spanish coast my husband and I were trying to sleep. The open window of our budget hotel room let in an intermittent breeze off the sea. Unfortunately, it also let in the groans, rumbles and shrieks of garbage trucks and tour buses on the street below.

A budget hotel in Tossa de Mar, on the Spanish coast, was hot and noisy, at least for one couple

The Past Is Present

09/06/2011
Travel Writer

Every year for the past decade, the entire continent of Europe has spent the first post-vacation weekend in September celebrating 2,000 years of Jewish culture, from its most ancient aspects to its modern incarnations. There are bagels in Brussels, lectures in Lyon, concerts in Krakow, screenings in Sofia.

It’s the European Day of Jewish Culture: a grassroots, pan-cultural and pan-religious event whose aim is to recover and delve deeper into the richness of the continent’s Jewish heritage.

The continent-wide Days of Jewish Culture open Europe’s Jewish past to Jews and non-Jews.

Here’s Mud In Your Vacation

08/30/2011
Travel Writer

Good weather, it turns out, is a relative concept.

When the sun comes out over Santorini, nobody pays any attention. It’s a fact of life, like seagulls and tourists.

But watching the sun come out over the Wadden Sea Islands — an archipelago off the Dutch coast — is like watching a miracle unfold.

Mud walking in the Wadden Sea, top. Above, the beach at Texel, Holland. Photos courtesy of Dutch Tourism Office
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